Chinese health remedy is leading to the death of thousands of donkeys in Africa’s poorest communities
SPANA calls for a halt to Chinese trade that threatens millions of donkeys – and the communities who rely on them for survival.
Across Africa, millions of donkeys risk a grim death to feed the growing demand for a traditional Chinese product called ‘ejiao’.
The gelatinous substance, made from boiling the hides of donkeys, often finds its way into beauty products which sell for up to £300 a kilo in China – but behind the luxury lies a dark and violent story, with countless working donkeys stolen, bludgeoned and starved to death.
It’s a terrible fate for many hardworking donkeys, which are the economic backbone of some of Africa’s poorest communities.
Despite this horrifying practice, new research from SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has revealed that people in the UK are largely unaware of the dangers that donkeys are facing. Only 5% believe that the animal is at risk of population decline, whereas animals such as elephants (54%) and tigers (52%) are acknowledged to be at risk of deterioration.
Ejiao manufacturers have now begun to look to Africa to meet the growing demand for donkey skins, although 88% of people in the UK are not aware that donkey skins are being exported to China from Africa for use in traditional Chinese medicine and cosmetics.
Across Africa, millions of donkeys are used by some of the world’s poorest communities in place of motorised transport. Working animals like these are essential to the livelihoods of around one billion of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people.
High prices are also fuelling an epidemic of crime, as donkeys are stolen from poor families to be slaughtered, often brutally and inhumanely, for the ejiao industry.
An increasing number of countries across Africa are banning the export of donkey products. But, even where bans on the export of donkey products exist, the illicit trade often remains a serious concern. Donkeys may face especially barbaric treatment in the illegal trade.
Working alongside international and local NGOs, SPANA is calling for an immediate halt to the ejiao trade while its impact is assessed.
SPANA is working with governments to put in place national bans on the export of donkey products. The trade has already been banned in many of the countries in which the charity works. UK residents can help SPANA by raising awareness and by supporting their work directly.